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Trump and the GOP’s closing argument – that the strongest nation on earth should cower in fear of immigrants – is as desperate as it is racist. As an unnamed White House official even admitted to the New York Times, the racist White House video released this week was an attempt to “change the focus of cable television from the pipe bombs and the Pittsburgh killings.” Despicable.
In addition to being amoral, the inevitable question some pundits and observers are asking is: will this dangerous and desperate incitement to racial panic actually work in the upcoming elections? Below are a few analyses to wit.
In Republican-leaning districts that include diverse populations or abut cities that do — from bulwarks of Sunbelt conservatism like Houston and Orange County, Calif., to the well-manicured bedroom communities outside Philadelphia and Minneapolis — the party is in danger of losing its House majority next week because Mr. Trump’s racially-tinged nationalism has alienated these voters who once made up a dependable constituency.
…“The divisiveness may play well in some parts of the country but it doesn’t play everywhere,” said the speaker of the Texas House, Joe Straus, who has sought to keep his party from drifting too far right. “It’s hard to grow a party when your whole approach is to incite the base.”
…“I’m not hearing anything helpful at all,” said Gene DiGirolamo, a moderate Republican state legislator from Bucks County, outside Philadelphia, where Republicans are struggling to hold on to a House seat and hold back Democratic gains in state races. In his area, Mr. DiGirolamo said, Mr. Trump’s support “among independents has slipped dramatically from when he was first elected.”
In the final days of the midterm campaign, Trump and other Republicans are focusing their closing arguments on cultural confrontations, from immigration to the bitter confirmation fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Otter’s announcement illuminates one key reason the party is placing so many chips on culture: GOP candidates appear to have lost faith that they can win the argument with voters over the key policies in their economic agenda, especially the longtime effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the huge tax cut Trump signed late last year.
“They are ending up on the culture war because we have blunted them on taxes and they can’t talk about health care,” Democratic pollster Ben Tulchin said. “So they are left with one card to play.”
“It’s very risky,” said Alex Conant, a longtime Republican consultant. “Obviously Republicans who show up at his rallies, they love it. But he’s not going to suburbia, because a lot of those policies don’t play well with suburban Republicans. It’s frankly why our House majority is at risk.”
“Trump is single-mindedly focused on turning out his base,” Conant added. “If you’re in a deep-red state, that’s great. If you’re in a purple state or a swing district, it’s a problem.”
Several Republican operatives and officials described a growing sense of fear within the party over Trump’s hard-line rhetoric on border security, which he has repeated nearly every day for the past three weeks.
“You’re playing at the margins with Republicans on the issue of immigration, but there are very many more Democrats that might be mobilized by his rhetoric,” said conservative radio host and The Resurgent editor Erick Erickson, who had this to say in a tweet: “Regardless of the merits, I think the President going full on immigration in the last week is not smart politically. There’s plenty of evidence that this could mobilize more protest votes against him than that he could gain from those who already agree with him on the issue.”
This immigration strategy the President is engaging in is a big political mistake. 75% of country thinks immigration is a good thing. Majority oppose border wall and separation of families. For every base voter who might be motivated, at least 2 independents are offended.